2001 Chrysler Town & Country Shuddering -turning at low

Tiny
PAAKRAAT
  • MEMBER
  • 2001 CHRYSLER TOWN AND COUNTRY
Shakes or Wobbles problem
2001 Chrysler Town and Country All Wheel Drive Automatic 116000 miles

I recently had the Rack & Pinion replaced on my Chrysler van by a Ford mechanic as a side job. Prior to the work, there were NO noticeable problems on the van other than not being able to turn left in extreme cold temps. The wheel would lock up until a quick, slight turn to the right would unbind whatever was holding it.

On the drive home after the Rack was finished, I immediately noticed two new problems. 1) a repetitive noise that I could only hear while moving at lower speeds and 2) an extremely noticeable hard downshift while decelerating when the van hit about 30mph. The mechanic said neither could be related to the work he did on the Rack. Coincidence? He did say the noise I was hearing could be related to the fact that now I needed to have an alignment done.

So I took the van to a transmission guy who was a friend of the Rack mechanic. He said the harsh downshift wasn't related to the Rack (of course) and said I needed $2100 worth of repairs. Got that done and that problem seemed to go away.

The next day, I took the van to Big-O for the alignment. They said the noise was actually that the rear rotors were badly warped and needed replaced. Hmmm, funny, they seemed ok before the Rack was replaced. I said ok, fix them. Then they said the left front hub was loose and they couldn't do the alignment without fixing that first. What could I say, except to fix it. A $69 alignment wound up costing $679.

As I was leaving Big-O, and driving very slowly from their parking lot, the van made horrible shuddering noises as I would turn the wheel. It feels like it's down in the wheels, almost like they're stuck to the ground and don't want to move on the ground. I know that's a pretty amateurish description but I don't know how else to describe it. I immediately called the mechanic out. He drove it around their lot, came back and declared "it's the Rack & Pinion". I'm actually not sure if the mechanic heard what I heard because it didn't do it when I left again. However, it's doing it all of the time now - at low speeds (under 20mph) and while turning either direction. It's extremely annoying.

What could it be? Which mechanic do I take it back to? Did I get taken to the cleaners just because I tried to save some money by letting someone do the Rack & Pinion as a side job? Any thoughts/advice would be most appreciated.

EDIT: this surely isn't related, but thought I'd better add it. About 2 days after I picked the van up from Big-O, I was sitting in a parking lot with the car idling on a very cold day. All of a sudden, I heard a very faint, "rrrr-ing" noise that lasted about 5-10 seconds. I didn't think much about it until I was ready to leave the parking spot and couldn't turn my wheel either direction. Later that day, when I finally got the van back to Big-O, they said the power steering hose had burst. They replaced that and all seemed fine, except for the fact that this shuddering still seems to be just as bad. I've read about this bulletin:
>SUBJECT:
>Steering Shudder
>OVERVIEW:
>This bulletin involves replacing one of the two power steering cooler hoses with a new
longer power steering hose and if necessary, installing a fin packed power steering cooler.
>MODELS:
>2001 - 2005 (RS) Town & Country, Caravan, Voyager
>etc.

but since this shuddering was occurring before the hose burst, I didn't think it would be applicable. Please let me know what you think though.

Tanya
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Saturday, January 31st, 2009 AT 1:18 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
JACK42
  • MEMBER
Depending on whether or not you bought a new or reman rack, the noise could be the new rack unit. Try putting a very small amount of motor oil (2-3 tbsp) in the p/s pump resevoir and driving it. Sometimes the seals are a littel sticky and need some more lubrication, it will also help out the pump if it is having a problem.
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Monday, February 2nd, 2009 AT 7:55 AM
Tiny
PAAKRAAT
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Thank you for your quick reply. I'll give that a try. Here's hoping.
Tanya
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Monday, February 2nd, 2009 AT 5:50 PM
Tiny
PAAKRAAT
  • MEMBER
Well, the mechanic who originally replace the Rack and Pinion got another one from NAPA and put a different one on the van. It STILL does the shudder. He said he tried everything he could think of but can't seem to figure out what's causing it.

He listed a ton of things that he tried but here are the things I can remember - he made sure there was no air in the lines, he took the tires off and checked the assemblies well, he even moved the front tires to the back and vice versa to see if it was a tire problem. He added some power steering conditioner (rather than motor oil as suggested above) but it made no difference. He called the guy who worked on the transmission and made sure everything related to those repairs were tight and in good order. He also replaced the hoses that Big-O had put on when the power steering hose had burst (after the shuddering had started) because he said they were too small and were swelling to more than twice their normal size.

He did note that the shudder is significantly worse when turning the wheel to the right than to the left (no difference from the first new Rack). He also noticed that when you're driving straight down the road, at any speed, that there's no shudder noticeable at all. It's only when you even slightly turn the wheel at very slow speeds (like when you're trying to park). Another thing he noted is that when he lifted the van and took the weight off of the suspension that the shudder goes away.

Do you have any other thoughts on this? Should I still try the motor oil (or is power steering conditioner just as good)? What else could it possibly be?
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Sunday, February 22nd, 2009 AT 1:27 PM
Tiny
MIKE DENNY
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Did you ever find a solution to this problem, I have the same condition on my 2001 Chrysler Town and County Van AWD
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Saturday, August 30th, 2014 AT 5:15 AM

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